Wake Up, Philippines!

Group to solons: Amend anti-trafficking law

Posted in Crime, Laws, Legislation, Trafficking by Erineus on March 16, 2009

By Marjorie Gorospe
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 20:58:00 03/16/2009

Filed Under: Crime, Laws

MANILA, Philippines — A nongovernmental organization (NGO) urged lawmakers to amend the Anti-Trafficking Act of 2003, in particular the confidentiality clause it deemed partial to offenders.

Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said the law currently protects the right to privacy of both the victim and the accused, allowing traffickers to continue their illegal activities.

“We believe in the need to protect the identities of the victims but not the accused especially if they have outstanding warrants of arrest,” Ople said.

Section 6 of Republic Act 9208 states that “at any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial of an offense under this act, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, court personnel and medical practitioners, as well as parties to the case, shall recognize the right to privacy of the trafficked person and the accused.”

“The only thing we [NGOs] can hold on to is our advocacy, so how can we prevent trafficking if none of us can tell anyone who preys on the victims,” said Ople, pointing out that trafficking is a transnational crime that involves syndicates with power and resources.

She said her organization has asked the Senate labor committee, headed by Senator Jose Estrada, to amend the law.

Ople said Estrada has asked her group to draft the appropriate amendments.

“We see that there is a loophole in this law, and that’s what we’re trying to work out,” said Ople, daughter of the late Senator Blas Ople.

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20090316-194502/Group-to-solons-Amend-anti-trafficking-law

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A doable stimulus plan

Posted in Economy, Global Financial Crisis, Legislation, Tourism by Erineus on March 16, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:14:00 03/16/2009

A measure that has been passed by Congress and is now awaiting the President’s signature may yet be one of the answers to the current economic crisis and at the same time may provide a long-term solution to the problem of poverty. The measure, the Tourism Act of 2009, creates the Tourism Development Estate Zone Authority and the Tourism Promotion Board.

Alejandra Clemente, president of the Federation of Tourism Industries of the Philippines (FTIP), said the tourism economic zones to be developed by the Authority would create millions of jobs and generate $10 billion in foreign exchange. She said that tourism could be an important engine of socioeconomic and cultural growth and generate investments, earn foreign exchange and create jobs.

Many countries today are visited by millions of tourists every year and earn billions of dollars in foreign exchange. According to the World Tourism Organization, in 2007 the top five most visited countries were France, 81.9 million tourist arrivals, $54.2 billion in tourism receipts; Spain, 59.2 million, $57.8 billion; United States, 56 million, $96.7 billion; China, 54.7 million, $41.9 billion; and Italy, 43.7 million, $42.7 billion.

The Philippines was visited by only 3.4 million tourists in 2007, compared with the 17 million of Malaysia, 14 million of Thailand and 14 million of the small country of Singapore. Clemente said that even Vietnam, which is still recovering from the devastation of a long war, was slowly overtaking the Philippines.

The Philippines could study the experience of Spain which was an underdeveloped country until the 1960s. It developed its tourism industry and is now one of the top five most visited countries and the second biggest earner from tourism in the world. Spain is not resting on its laurels and is continuing to develop business models that are environmentally, socially and culturally sustainable.

What does Spain have or, for that matter, what do Malaysia and Thailand have that the Philippines does not have? The Philippines has many tourist attractions like Boracay, one of the best beaches in the world; Palawan, “the last frontier,” which has exotic wildlife, white sand beaches and natural wonders like an underground river; Bohol, which has the world-famous Chocolate Hills and superb diving spots like Panglao and Balicasag; the Banaue rice terraces, called the Eighth Wonder of the Modern World; and Tubbataha Reefs, an excellent diving spot. The Philippines has a gentle, hospitable people, most of whom speak English. A melting pot of Malay, Chinese, Arabic, Indian, Spanish and American culture, the Philippines is a culturally active nation inhabited by musically and artistically gifted people.

What the Philippines lacks is a comprehensive, systematic tourism plan. A lot of infrastructure has to be constructed to bring many destinations up to world standards. Many hotels still have to be built to accommodate the growing number of tourists. And the government has to improve peace and order conditions; it has to crack down on kidnappers, robbers and con artists.

The development of the tourist industry would have a multiplier effect on the economy. The tourism master plan would create 30 million jobs over a 10-year period and earn about $10 billion in foreign exchange. When the number of tourist arrivals increases, there will be greater demand for food and services. A burgeoning tourist industry would benefit agriculture and the information technology industries. More factories would be needed to manufacture supplies for hotels and resorts.

A growing tourist industry could absorb the tens of thousands of overseas Filipino workers who have lost their jobs and are returning to the country. These workers only need to be retrained so that they can enter the tourism industry. An added advantage is that they would not have to leave the country again, and the social problems created by absentee parents would be partially relieved.

Government officials are pushing stimulus plans to revive an economy that is being affected by the global economic meltdown. The tourism program envisioned under the Tourism Act of 2009 is one concrete, doable stimulus plan. If President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants a ready answer to the current economic crisis as well as a long-term plan to solve the problem of poverty, she can find it in the measure that is just waiting for her signature.

http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/editorial/view/20090316-194487/A-doable-stimulus-plan

BACLARAN CHURCH: Mass attendance, petitions swell

By Manolita A. Gonzales
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:52:00 03/16/2009

Filed Under: Churches (organisations), World Financial Crisis, Religion & Belief, Overseas Employment, Grants and Scholarships, Employment

(Editor’s Note: Times are tough. Let’s do something about it. Now. Share with us what you or other people are doing to get you through the rough times. If we are together, we can tough it out. Send suggestions to jsarmiento@inquirer.com.ph)

MANILA, Philippines—The tougher the times, the harder people pray.

At the popular “Our Mother of Perpetual Help” shrine in Baclaran, Parañaque City, people attending Wednesday novenas and Sunday Masses often spill over to the courtyard. Churchgoers used to peak at 120,000 on the first Wednesday of the month.

Now crowds fill the church to overflowing even on ordinary Wednesdays and Sundays. (The shrine holds 12 Masses and novenas every Wednesday.)

Prices have risen, but devotees are not scrimping on their donations to the church. In fact, Wednesday and Sunday collections in Baclaran have slightly increased.

The Baclaran shrine is a favorite place of solace for people seeking special favors from Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and for any good Samaritan willing to help someone in need.

On the first Wednesday of the month, the shrine gets 3,000 to 4,000 written petitions. It receives 2,200 to 2,800 petitions on ordinary Wednesdays.

“Those are twice the number of letters we got five of ten years ago,” said Vivian Bersola, a lay missionary of the shrine for 19 years.

Devotees also write prayers of thanksgiving—around 500 are received weekly.

Petitions for jobs

While petitions used to focus on family and spiritual problems, recent ones are more work-related, such as prayers for landing a job in the country or abroad and for passing of job interviews and board exams, according to Bersola.

Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost in the country over the past few months because of plunging demand for exports like electronics and garments as the recession in the United States and other developed countries deepens.

The Philippines could lose up to 300,000 jobs in the first six months of the year, according to the labor secretary.

Other petitions include prayers for health and recovery from sickness (particularly cancer and other ailments needing surgery), peace in the home, travel abroad, release of housing loans and even divine intervention in the payment of tuition and credit cards.

“These petitions keep us grounded in the day-to-day struggle of ordinary people,” Fr. Ino Cueto said.

Redemptorist priests read some of the prayer petitions during Mass.

Mass for OFWs

Noticing that problems of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families were a recurring theme in petitions and even confessions, the priests decided to hold special Masses for the workers and their families at 9:30 a.m. every last Friday of the month.

Shortly before the Mass for OFWs was to be held in January, the priests wondered, “Would people attend?” They were surprised when the whole church was filled.

When Cueto became shrine rector a year ago, he noticed that some 20 beggars would appear on Tuesday nights in anticipation of the Wednesday devotees.

Recently, he counted more than 50. “Most of them are old women,” he said. “We cannot prevent them from coming, but we are thinking of a more systematic and effective response to their plight.”

The Redemptorist priests are noted for their social programs for the poor, as well as their activism during the martial law years, when they were teasingly called “Redempterrorists.”

There seems to be less political activism now, which is true of the whole Catholic Church, but the social services remain.

“We used to get eight walk-in clients a day, but now we get around 15,” said Arlene Camua, social worker of the shrine’s Crisis Intervention Center.

“The more common requests are for transportation back to home provinces, medication for ailments such as diabetes and stroke, hospitalization and surgical operations.”

Clients who seek help come from Metro Manila and as far as Mindoro, Quezon and Leyte.

Eunice Barrozo, another social worker, said the Redemptorist Education Assistance Program got 55 applicants for college scholarships and continued to do so after the deadline ended last month.

The scholarship used to be open to students from any part of Metro Manila. Soaring costs of education forced the program to limit scholarships to Parañaque residents only.

Street children

The hard times are also sending more children to the streets.

Phen Mangahas, team leader of social services and director of the Sarnelli Center for Street Children, said the children the center gathered recently for street education sessions reached 100 from last year’s 60.

“Street children are now less willing to stay at our drop-in center,” she said. They prefer to be out in the streets to help parents by selling sando (plastic) bags or sampaguita (jasmine).

The three social workers noted that ironically, more clients were being referred to Baclaran by government agencies, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Office of Vice President Noli de Castro.

“Five years ago, we were able to get augmentation funds from the DSWD,” Mangahas said. “Now, these agencies say they really have no funds.”

Transparency, generosity

Baclaran shrine’s social services are sustained by donations—not only from wealthy patrons but also from ordinary people who share whatever they have.

Donors include those whose petitions were granted and those who want to share their blessings, say, lotto winnings.

One donor said she doubled her donations because she believed that “if you increase your donations, you will get more blessings in return.”

The devotees’ generosity is partly encouraged by the Redemptorist policy of transparency, especially now that people are fed up with rampant corruption, according to Cueto.

Monthly updates

The priests give monthly updates—announced before Masses—on where collections go.

According to the last quarter of 2008 report, a total of P1,461,552.86 went to medical assistance for 166 patients, such as 55 chemotherapy sessions, 51 operations, six cobalt/radiotherapy and medicines for 35 patients.

A total of P254,764.84 was used for transportation, medical, food and funeral assistance.

The shrine also supports 64 full and partial scholars and helps fund the social services of the other Redemptorist shrines in Lipa City in Batangas and Legazpi City in Albay.

“In our homilies, we try to help people see things in a bigger context,” Cueto said.

“The Lord does not want people to wallow in poverty. We want devotees to think, why does poverty persist? Hopefully, the shrine also helps people to realize that there are so many possibilities that we can attain as a people.”

He also expressed hope that “devotees will develop a sense of mission and service to respond to what is happening to the larger society.” Project Editor: Juan V. Sarmiento Jr.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20090316-194376/Mass-attendance-petitions-swell

Automated election can be used to cheat

Posted in comelec, Election, Modernization by Erineus on March 16, 2009

By Manuel A. Alcuaz Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:17:00 03/15/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Graft & Corruption

IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT many people, including senators and congressman, are under the impression that election automation would automatically lead to clean elections.

In an automated election, good old Garcillano might not be able to employ his old tricks. But there are countless computer whiz kids who could modify programs and alter voting results electronically.

Many ways to cheat

If we look at the election process, there are many ways to cheat.

1. People in power or with lots of money could buy support from local leaders or directly from voters.

No automated system can prevent this.

2. In the old days of guns and goons, voters were either coerced to vote for certain candidates or scared away and their ballots used.

We thought we had progressed beyond this. Unfortunately, cheating prevailed in 2007 in Maguindanao and other areas.

3. Ballot box stuffing or ballot substitution.

With the proposed Comelec Automated Election System, ballots would have to be substituted before these are fed into the counting machine.

This is a little more difficult, but the actual production of the fake marked ballots is a lot easier. And it is harder to identify ballots marked by one person.

4. Misreading/mistallying of votes during precinct count.

Normally, OMR counting machines can be very accurate. But who can tell if the machine has been programmed for automated and undetected dagdag bawas? Comelec has not done enough to assure the public that this will not happen.

5. Substitution of election returns (ER).

This may have happened in the 2004 elections in ARMM.

We suspect that in Pampanga, Cebu, Iloilo and Bohol, Namfrel and the other parties may have been given fake ERs.

An honest, automated system would prevent the substitution of ERs with previously prepared faked ERs. But we can never tell if manipulation is done inside the OMR counting machine.

6. Substitution of ballot box and ER on the way to the municipality.

In the automated system, electronic ERs would be sent to the municipal canvassing center through the communication system.

How can we be sure that the results transmitted are not changed at the source or at the receiving end?

7. Fraud in the computation of the municipal COC.

This is hard to detect if the precinct results are not visible to watchers.

In the automated system, we will not see how computations are done in the canvassing server. There is no independent means to cross check what the server generates.

I think that contrary to the common belief that delays create opportunities for cheating, some delays are needed for checking and auditing.

In an automated election, moving too fast without checks and audits could result in massive cheating.

8. Substitution of Municipal COCs on the way to the province.

This could have happened in Muslim Mindanao in 2004.

Proponents of automated systems suggest that this would be prevented with secure electronic transmission. There still is the possibility of manipulation within the system.

9. Fraud in the computation of the provincial COC.

This could have happened in 2004 and could happen again within the provincial canvassing server.

10. Substitution of COCs on the way to Congress and Comelec.

This could have happened in 2004. And even with an automated system, this could still happen.

11. Errors in computation of national total.

Counting machines

The P9.5 billion the Comelec intends to spend on the rental of 80,000 OMR reading machines will not hasten the completion of national election counting. But the use of reading machines could lessen retail cheating in peaceful areas.

However, OMR voting is not a deterrent. For cheaters, OMR voting facilitates the production of ballots.

Hazards and safeguards

Comelec would like us to assume that automation will prevent cheating.

That is not true. Let us make sure that safeguards and audits are instituted.

The OMR system is similar to the classic, paper-based election system, except that:

1. Voters mark candidate of choice instead of writing the name.

2. The OMR ballots are machine-counted instead of being read and tallied.

For those who think that cheating can only take place when human hands are involved, this would look like a fraud-free system.

Comelec’s new procedure calls for each voter to physically feed his ballot into the machine.

A picture of the ballot is then taken.

As we pointed out earlier, the voter in some areas may be influenced or forced to feed another ballot into the machine.

Programmed to cheat

Let us pretend we are in a precinct where law and order prevails, and you are the voter feeding in your ballot.

How can you be sure that the machine will not change one or more of your votes?

How can you be sure that the total votes in the printed ER are truly what the voters in the cluster voted for?

The law provides for testing of the machines prior to Election Day.

If the machines are not stand-alone, how can you be sure that a modified program was not downloaded on Election Day to add votes for certain candidates and subtract from others (electronic dagdag bawas)?

At the end of counting, the original program could be restored.

The Election Law should call for stand-alone machines.

To verify that the OMR machines are counting properly, the two parties and the Citizens Arm should be allowed to run their test ballots before the start of counting and at the end of counting.

If discrepancies are detected, these should be noted and could be the basis for reverting to a manual count or a protest.

Safeguards

The Comelec proposes to automatically transmit election returns from the 80,000 OMR counting machines to the municipal servers.

While this is the fastest way to do it, it does not guarantee honest elections and does not provide transparency of the election counting process.

If the OMR counting machines can send electronic ERs to the municipal servers through the communication system, someone who knows the system well could change the programs on the machines from a remote and undetected location.

The best way to detect fraud is to create and provide at least seven printed and electronic copies of the ER.

The OMR Counting Machines should not be equipped with any communication capability.

There should be a separate stand-alone PC from where the ERs can be sent to the municipal canvassing/consolidation server as well as to the seven organizations entitled to receive the seven copies of the ER.

The Comelec AES does not provide for visible canvassing or parallel transmission and canvassing.

This will raise concerns about the honesty of the count and would certainly result in a loss of credibility of the results.

The Comelec should provide PCs for the major parties in each municipal tabulation center.

There should also be at least three projectors in each canvassing center.

The projectors would show the statement of vote for the municipality.

Watchers would be able to compare the projected totals on the three computers (Comelec, majority and opposition).

The COC should not be finalized until the discrepancies are resolved.

There are 1,631 cities and municipalities, 80 provinces, 13 regions and two national canvassing centers for a total of 1,736 sets.

Let’s provide 10-percent backup sets. That would be 1,910, let’s say 2,000.

The total cost would only be P360 million.

Cost reduction

One could easily reduce the cost of the OMR Counting Machines by increasing the cluster size per OMR machine to 10 and allowing feeding of ballots into the machines by the BEI after the end of voting.

That would mean savings of at least P4.5 billion, which is more than enough to pay for a transparent and more credible transmission and canvassing system.

Hopefully, wholesale cheating could be lessened.

But let us not expect canvassing for national candidates to be done in three to four days.

(The article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines. The author is president of Systems Sciences Consult Inc. Feedback at map@globelines.com.ph. For previous articles, please visit .)

http://business.inquirer.net/money/columns/view/20090315-194313/Automated-election-can-be-used-to-cheat


51,000 cops have no guns

Posted in News Feature, PNP by Erineus on March 16, 2009

By Cecille Suerte Felipe Updated March 12, 2009 12:00 AM

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MANILA, Philippines – Almost half of police officers nationwide have no hand guns.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has not yet provided hand guns to 51,242 out of the 125,000 police officers nationwide.

The PNP also admitted that some of the 1,741 police station buildings nationwide are in a state of disrepair.

PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa said these are among the challenges being addressed by the PNP through the Integrated Transformation Program (ITP).

The concerns on firearms, police station buildings and mobility assets were discussed during the PNP-hosted multi-sectoral forum on police transformation held at the PNP Multi-Purpose Hall in Camp Crame, Quezon City yesterday attended by leaders and representatives from the religious, business, academe, non-governmental organizations, mass media and government sectors.

Verzosa said the forum aims to enlist the participation of the different sectors of society to come up with better solutions to issues and concerns on peace and order and internal security.

Chief Superintendent Lani-O Nerez, Deputy Director for Logistics, said that PNP has 51,757 units of 9mm pistols, 11,891 units of .38 revolvers and 10,110 pieces of .45 pistols, or a total of 73,758 short firearms.

On long firearms, Nerez said that the PNP has at present 4,213 units of 12-gauge shotguns, 48,456 M16 rifles, and 5,445 M-14 rifles or a total of 58,114 long firearms.

“Due to inadequate funds to procure firearms, the PNP prioritized issuance of firearms to PNP units and personnel in high risk areas,” Nerez said.

President Arroyo tapped the PNP in 2006 to adopt Internal Security Operations (ISO) in areas where the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not present. PNP units involved in ISO need long firearms and the PNP has only procured a total of 3,964 units in the past six years.

“The yearly procurement of short firearms of 5,000 units per year is not enough to fill up the shortage,” Nerez reported. “The annual recruitment of an average of 3,000 police personnel needs the corresponding number of short firearms.”

“Only 691 or 40 percent of the 1,741 police station buildings are owned by the PNP, while 1,050 or 60 percent buildings are located on the property of local government units,” said Nerez,adding that “some of the existing PNP-owned police station buildings are deteriorating and in disrepair.”

Nerez pointed out that in some cases the budget for construction or repair of police station buildings come from local government officials, the general appropriations act (GAA) or private organizations.

The PNP also has a shortage of 12,714 vehicles out of the 22,303 units required.

Verzosa said the involvement of the community is a key factor in implementing the 10-year ITP sought by the PNP to make the police organization more capable, effective and credible.

“We are trying to address the dysfunctions in existing systems, procedures and programs, and by promoting within the PNP a culture of excellence, moral values and spirituality among all personnel,” said Verzosa.

View previous articles from this author.

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MRI may increase mastectomy for early-stage breast cancer

Posted in Cancer, Medicine by Erineus on March 16, 2009

YOUR DOSE OF MEDICINE By Charles C. Chante, MD Updated March 08, 2009 12:00 AM

Preoperative magnetic resonance imaging may be a factor in the rising rate of mastectomy among women with early-stage breast cancer, a retrospective study suggests.

Investigators reviewed 5,596 stage 0-11 breast cancers in 5,463 women who underwent surgery for the malignancy between 1997 and 2006 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. They found that mastectomy rates decreased from 45% in 1997 to 30% in 2003, but then increased to 43% in 2006.

The rebound occurred in tandem with a doubling in the percentage of women who underwent preoperative breast magnetic resonance imaging, one of the investigators noted in a preview of the findings presented during a press briefing at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

It was reported at the Mayo Clinic that 11% of the women who were studied in 2003 underwent preoperative breast MRI, but this had increased to 22% of women in 2006.

Patients who underwent preoperative breast MRI were significantly more likely to undergo preoperative breast MRI (52% vs. 38%).

A similar increase in mastectomy rates was seen, however, in those who did not undergo preoperative MRI, with rates in those patients increasing from 28% in 2003 to 41% in 2006.

After adjustment for age, stage, contralateral breast cancer, and density, pre-operative MRI was found to be an independent predictor of mastectomy (odds ratio 1.7, P less than .0001).

Surgical year was also found to be a predictor of mastectomy.

Compared with 2003, the odds ratios for mastectomy were 1.4 for 2004, 1.9 for 2005 and 1.7 for 2006 (P less than .0001).

It was noted that other factors might also play a role in the increasing number of women who are undergoing mastectomy.

It cited patient preference, some women choose mastectomy over lumpectomy to maximize their risk reduction and changes in medical procedures and technologies, such as improved breast reconstruction options and the introduction of genetic testing.

Chair of the ASCO Cancer Communications Committee and moderator of the press briefing, added that studies have shown that when breast MRI is performed at the time of early stage breast cancer diagnosis, more cancer is found in both the breast known to be affected and the contralateral breast than is found on mammography.

Doctor of the University of Washington and the Fried Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, both in Seattle said that it may be that these surgeries based on MRI are appropriate.

MRI referrals bias might also play a role in the increased mastectomy rates.

Additional study is required to further elucidate the influence of these various factors on surgical management, and to assess whether the changing trends in surgical management improve outcomes for women with breast cancer.

View previous articles of this column.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=446542&publicationSubCategoryId=64

No active fault at BNPP – geologist

Posted in BNPP, Congress, Energy, Legislation by Erineus on March 16, 2009

By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:18:00 03/08/2009

THE activation of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) can give the country cheap and consistent power in the years to come, according to a geologist at the University of the Philippines.

Dr. Carlos Arcilla, director of the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS), said the BNPP was just standing idly and should be used to mitigate the effects of a looming power shortage and to bring the price of electricity down, which is one of the highest in Asia.

“Let’s think of what we can do with the power that can be produced by the BNPP. I hate expensive electricity and I’d like to see cheap electricity in households where the members won’t have to worry about their electrical bills,” he said.

In arguing for the activation of the plant, Arcilla revisited the objections to the BNPP, mostly dealing with safety.

Arcilla said he conducted last month a study of the ground below the plant and found no active fault.

Mt. Natib

He said the BNPP was built on the “flanks” of Mt. Natib. Even assuming that Mt. Natib erupts, the country already has the instrumentation to predict an impending eruption and give enough time to shut down the plant.

“Is it (Mt. Natib) active? Potentially, yes. But within the 60 years during which the plant will operate, the risk of an eruption is very small. Even Phivolcs is not monitoring Mt. Natib,” Arcilla said.

On the design of the BNPP, Arcilla noted that there were “carbon copies” of the plant operating in Korea and Taiwan since the 1980s without any accident. He also said that nuclear plants were built to withstand earthquakes and that the BNPP was unscathed after the 1990 temblor.

He said the mothballing of the plant came as a reaction to the meltdown of the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine. But Arcilla said US-designed power plants were far safer than their Russian counterparts.

He pointed to the Three Mile Island meltdown, where no one died, as proof that safety systems in a plant were effective in controlling a meltdown. “Among all power sources, nuclear power has the lowest rate of accidents,” he said.

Waste disposal

On a disposal site for nuclear waste, Arcilla pointed to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico as a model for disposal of nuclear waste.

Arcilla issued a challenge. “Give me one island out of our 7,000 and I can find ways to store nuclear waste safely in the Philippines. Storing nuclear waste can be safe because there will be levels of barrier protection systems.”

Besides, Arcilla said the technology to safely store nuclear waste had not been fully explored. “It’s because of the social acceptability. We have this attitude of ‘not in my backyard.’ But if you take that out, then definitely we can come up with better ways of storing waste. The technology is already there,” he said.

On the cost, Arcilla said the BNPP could pay itself off in seven years.

Poverty

“Even if the BNPP were to produce only 620 megawatts of the perceived 3,000 MW shortage in the next few years, it’s still 620 MW. Expensive electricity leads to more poverty,” he said.

Arcilla said he had an “open mind” and was also advocating the use of other power sources, like geothermal, solar, and wind. But he said building geothermal plants was expensive and power from solar and wind sources was not consistent enough for the country’s needs.

“If there is proof that the site is not geologically safe or that the plant already has defects, I’ll be the first to say ‘Let’s forget all about it.’ I won’t accept a nuclear plant that is not vetted for safety,” the geologist said.

http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/talkofthetown/view/20090308-192920/No-active-fault-at-BNPP–geologist